Chawton Hill were recently called upon by South West London Pathology to conduct incoming schedules of condition at sites across London and Surrey. The organisation is an award-winning NHS pathology partnership between several NHS trusts. It provides a single, integrated pathology service across South West London and beyond.
The Schedule of Condition
A schedule of condition sets out to factually record the condition of a property. When complete, a schedule of condition provides a detailed record of the condition of a property on a specific date. It can then provide a benchmark to assess any future changes to the property.
This can be useful whether a property is being rented or bought. The content of the report helps identify the correct end of tenancy deposit return and assessment of dilapidations. Or it can help assess the sale price of the property.
Generally, a schedule of condition takes place before occupancy of the property takes place. However, unusually, this one happened after South West London Pathology had already taken up occupancy of the building.
Why So Late?
The late execution of the survey occurred because in May 2021 South West London Pathology expanded leading to an urgent need for new space. The new building allowed the merging of two laboratories and consolidation of staff. Chawton Hill always recommend having a schedule of condition taken as early as possible. However, where a timely appointment isn’t possible, it should take place as soon as possible thereafter.
What Are the Risks?
The question resulting from this is, are there extra risks when taking early occupancy before a schedule of condition? And how can you mitigate those risks?
Essentially, by using the property before a schedule of condition is complete, you accept the property in the condition in which it comes. This could cause problems later if there were issues with the property. The landlord may argue that you accepted the property simply by moving in, or that you caused the issue after you moved in. It may also lead to difficulty in assessing the value of any dilapidations if there isn’t a record of its condition at the start of the lease.
However, South West London Pathology were under a time constraint and as a result so was Chawton Hill. The schedule of condition was completed as fast as possible. For us, the challenge was to move quickly to record the site as accurately as possible, at the same time ensuring minimal disruption to tenants and staff.
Added to the challenges of the process, the site was high-risk for COVID. Our surveyor had to overcome further challenges! However, working collaboratively with the client we completed the survey. A schedule is now in place for any future negotiations or discussions when the tenancy completes in several years.
How Can We Help?
If you find yourself taking on a commercial lease, be sure to get a schedule of condition as early as possible. If you’d like to know more about the benefits of a schedule in various contexts, give us a call or get in touch by email today.